Friday, September 2, 2011

Meet Sam Benson, protagonist of Gods of the Machines

Here are some things about my character, Sam Benson, the detective who blames an android for a killing spree on the newly colonized planet, Ceres...

The protagonist in my latest novel, Gods of the Machines, is Det. Sam Benson. Here are thirteen things about Sam that will hopefully give you a better idea of who he is and what he is made of. You might also find that Sam’s character or nature is definitely intertwined with the plot’s advancement. Please don’t be concerned about reading spoilers, resolutions and surprises weren’t compromised.

1 – Sam Benson is not a fan of technology. Although he lives in the 25th century, the detective models his weapon after the 20th century version of a Glock, despite the fact that his gun does not shoot bullets. He also doesn’t particularly fancy living in a home which has been fashioned from holographic technology. Sam’s biggest fear is that the technology holding the walls the place will fail and he will be exposed during a private moment.
2 – Sam is not technically-oriented nor an aficionado of artificial makings. As he leaves his home on Earth to prepare for a life and police career on the new planet Ceres, a dark fear engulfs him. He is aware that androids share life with humans there. A cyberneticist created the beings out of necessity when the first party of colonists realized the planet was poisoned with radiation. To save the mission, the dying scientist’s memories – or engrams – were implanted into artificial bodies. An incident involving an android had threatened lives due to a psychotic break shortly after. It was reasoned that the human memories stored in the android caused it to behave psychotically.
Although the android’s human contributions have since been purged, Sam is still wary of artificial life. He is actually more afraid that the androids are all machine without any human guidance. Sam, brash and opinionated, makes no bones about his prejudice to his fiancée and colleague, Medical Examiner Sandra Morton.
3 – Sam’s fiancée Sandra is open minded and tolerant, in opposition to Sam. The detective continues his opinionated behavior despite warning cues from Sandra. And when a murder occurs, Sam is all too quick to theorize an android is to blame. Even at the expense of his forthcoming marriage, Sam works diligently to put the android at the crime scene and find evidence of his misdeed. But as Sam finds no tangible evidence to pin the murder on his prime suspect, Sandra can no longer bury her frustration with her fiancée. She announces their marriage ceremony, mere days away, has been called off.
4 – Sam takes a liking to his subordinate, Sharon Laviolette. He won’t admit it to anyone but Sharon is a lot like his younger sister. To everyone’s chagrin, Sam had become the overprotective parent of his sister when they shared a home as teenagers. Sam’s overbearing nature eventually drove his sister away from him.
Sam now wonders about how Sharon will get by on the new planet. She is a more than capable crime scene investigator, but Sharon is young and by herself. Sam can’t resist the urge to keep an eye on her, especially while his relationship with Sandra seems all but over. In response, Sharon equates Sam’s guidance with romance. Her open flirtation with Sam is unmistakable. Sam feels uneasy when Sharon invites her to her home to celebrate her birthday.

5 – Sam begins sharing his dislike of the android with Sharon at her birthday party possibly as a way to divert the romantic insinuations make by Sharon. He likens the androids to devils because he believes they are soulless. He is shocked to find Sharon has bonded so emotionally with a holographic cat. Sharon counters Sam’s arguments that artificial beings, although made from parts, aren’t too different from humans who may donate their organs to help others. Sam enjoys the argument. He wishes Sandra hadn’t stifled his candidness and invited debate like Sharon. He can’t resist the urge to kiss her when Sharon makes a pass at him.
6 – Guilty about sharing a kiss with Sharon, Sam vows to set the young CSI straight about their relationship – that they are only colleagues. He also promises to admit to Sandra he shared passion with Sharon.
Both initiatives are more easily said than done. Sandra is still distant from Sam, especially when he finds the detective has petitioned Earth to treat the suspected android as a person and not a thing for the purpose of convicting him.
Sharon believes she is a better partner for Sam than Sandra. But Sharon is for the most part carefree and takes a’ wait and see’ approach to his announcement.
Meanwhile, another murder takes place, casting some of Sam’s blame away from the android. It seems to Sam that a conspiratorial motive is behind the latest killing.
Sam’s reformulated theorizing gives Sandra pause. The medical examiner begins to consider if she and Sam might continue their relationship after all.
7 – Because Sam is now convinced something more sinister is at large on the new planet than a crazy android, the detective directs his attention to finding a motive for the murder of a judge. The judge had shown support for the androids and their continued fight to enjoy similar rights as humans. Sam believes someone who stands to gain financially from the android’s non-citizen status might be behind his murder. He begins questioning an Earth manufacturer, one whose reputation for producing cutting edge technology puts it in prime position to benefit from the mass manufacture or artificial beings.

8 – Sam is undaunted by the smugness of the manufacturer who claims he is 100 percent supportive of androids rights. This gives Sam pause and causes his detective mind to consider that it might even be more profitable for the manufacturer to create androids with the same specialized programming as his former prime suspect. Possibly, Sam theorizes, the manufacturer is seeking a means to steal the specialized programming of the Ceres android. It really doesn’t matter, Sam posits, if the androids are evolved are live in servitude. The manufacturer will stand to make huge profits when the most cutting edge androids can be offered to the public.
Sam’s paranoia is further fueled when the manufacturer makes an offer to transport the suspected Ceres android back to Earth so it can be examined and ‘fixed’ at no charge. Now Sam is sure the manufacturer is out to steal the android’s programming and is guilty of killing the judge by means of a robotic bee, sent by the manufacturer to the new planet as a gift for the purpose of pollination.
9 – Sam’s outrage at the manufacturer portrays his dogged determination to find the truth, even if it exonerates the android and all artificial life he has come to mistrust. Sandra realizes Sam’s relentless pursuit of justice is what made her fall in love with him in the first place. But Sandra won’t yet admit her renewed admiration for her former fiancée because she is not blind as to what is transpiring between him and Sharon.
10 – Sam nearly loses his life when one of his biggest fears comes true. Holographic technology fails and causes Sam to see something which might be a key to explaining the murders. In a perilous moment, Sam trusts his eyes and not his mind to come to a realization. It is a new approach to his crime solving. Sam admits his mistake – another first – to Sandra that he shouldn’t have been approaching his investigation as if he still worked on Earth. Sam finds comfort in Sandra’s reassurances. She tells him a detective won’t survive long by second guessing himself.
11 – Sam continues to modify his approach to the crimes. He now believes something with ties to the planet’s origin might be responsible. He is determined to ‘second guess’ himself if it means saving lives.
12 – Sam vows to make good on his promise – to divulge his brief relationship with Sharon to Sandra. He had never kept a secret from Sandra and won’t begin now – even if it means he will lose the love of his life.
13 – Sam takes a leap of faith and trusts the android, once his prime suspect, with not only his welfare – but the entire planet’s. Now Sam will find out one way or another if his original instincts were warranted.
I sincerely hope that your curiosity has been peaked to find out - What will happen to Sam and the colonists? - Who really committed the murders? – Who will be the victor in romance, Sandra or Sharon? Oh, and don’t forget the android. Was he really only a red herring?

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